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Vertical readings of Herbert's The Temple
George Herbert scholarship has so far overlooked the fact that in “Prayer (I)” the poet advises the reader to “point east”. “Love (III)” alludes to the Eucharist and advocates a “daily table”. Herbert’s “Divinity” celebrates the mysteries of the cabala, while his poem “Misery” concludes, “HAA HAA”. If these readings appear strange and unfamiliar, they derive from reading Herbert in a strange and unfamiliar way: vertically. Herbert’s much-admired collection of religious verse, The Temple, published in 1633, contains innumerable acrostics and anagrams, discoverable by reading the first letter of each line down the left-hand column of text. [...]
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